Refining Online Search Results

Grouping your search terms as a phrase can be an effective way to refine your search results. Try each of the searches below using Google and compare results. An explanation accompanies each part of the exercise, showing you why the results changed.

oedipal complex— About 236,000 results

Explanation – Even though Google searched for both words, it will retrieve results where they appear separately. Google didn’t know you were looking for them as a phrase, it only looked for the individual words as separate entities.

“oedipal complex”—About 165,000 results

Explanation – When you place quotes around the phrase oedipal complex, it ensured that the words were grouped together as a phrase. Thus, Google could remove all hits with only one of the words and all hits where both words returned independently.


“oedipal complex” “sigmund freud”—About 24,800 results

Explanation – – Adding the name of its theorist, Sigmund Freud, makes the search more specific. Google will return results that include both phrases, so you’ll likely get more information about Freud’s psychoanalysis theory along with the Oedipus Complex.

Advanced search options—About 4,330 results

Click on settings above your last set of search results to access the Advanced Search. Limit your search to the Domain to .org

Explanation – The advanced search will use both phrases and limit the domain, so you should get the fewest number of hits. By limiting your search to .org(organizations) you should have found the Wikipedia entry on Freud, for example.

You could also try the .edu option to locate academic sites.

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